JULY 18, 2004

A big help for F1 in America

The rival single-seater racing championships in North America have agreed to disagree and will continue independently of one another. The new will be greeted with joy by NASCAR and is good news also for Formula 1 as it tries to create a bigger following in the North American market. The Indy Racing League and rival Champ Car series issued a joint statement on Friday saying that following a second meeting of their representatives in Toronto last weekend no agreement was possible. The attempts to unify the two series had been led by IRL team owner Roger Penske, a man who clearly understands that the current situation is self-destructive.

The Toronto meeting featured the Champ Car principals Gerald Forsythe, Kevin Kalkhoven and Paul Gentilozzi, Penske and Indianapolis Motor Speedway's general counsel Curt Brighton, one of Tony George's right hand men. George himself did not attend the meeting.

This was the second meeting of the parties involved, the first having taken place on June 22. The first meeting was a discussion about the overall differences between the two organizations and whether or not there was common ground between them. The meeting in Toronto was intended to look at more specific questions and apparently this quickly resulted in deadlock. The major bone of contention appears to be the way in which the sport is governed with Champ Car having adopted a much more collective approach to decision-making while the Indy Racing League operates in much the same way as NASCAR with a single voice of authority. Formula 1 has found that collective management is a huge problem and the current political instability has resulted from this situation.

Kalkhoven, Forsythe and Gentilozzi are currently running seven of the cars which are running in Champ Cars, more than a third of the field and it is believed that they are helping to fund some of the other teams. Champ Car grew out of the now-defunct CART series which went bankrupt at the end of last year, having used up around $100m in cash reserves.